By Paul Gillin | December 10, 2010 - 7:45 am - Posted in BusinessModel, Citizen Journalism, Future of Journalism, Newspapers, OnlineMedia, Paywalls

Judy Sims nails it with this post about the denial that continues to plague the news industry. While paying homage to Journal Register’s John Paton, she asks why there aren’t more like him? Newspaper revenues have contracted by more than half in the last five years, yet the leadership at these companies continues to look for ways to bring back the past with $30 iPad apps and subscription models.

The end of the newspaper industry as we have know it is approaching more rapidly than anyone predicted. What better time to make meaningful changes than when facing your own mortality? This means discarding all assumptions, re-evaluating your whole value proposition, your business model, staffing, everything. Sometimes you have to kill the business in order to save it. Sims writes:

The first thing a realistic news exec needs to do is understand their disruptor…The Internet is not just another content distribution method.  It is social.  It is collaborative.  That means accepting that they are no longer publishers or broadcasters having a one-way “Gutenberg era” conversation with the masses.

Next, a realistic news executive has to admit that they don’t know where the business model is going.  That takes guts.

We are reminded again of Paton’s comment about the “aging managerial cadre that is cynically calculating how much they DON’T have to change before they get across the early retirement goal line.” Why aren’t boards of directors firing these people and bringing in management without legacy baggage? Or, as Sims puts it, “why aren’t Rafat Ali, Mike Arrington, Om Malik et al invited onto mainstream media boards?”

Good question.

Miscellany

Nieman has a great post about why the WikiLeaks disclosures are good for both the public and mainstream media. Nikki Usher writes that the 251,000 leaked cables gave media organizations a perfect opportunity to demonstrate their value by doing what citizen journalists couldn’t, namely, sorting through the mountain of material and getting perspective and commentary from top administration officials. These are two things that professional journalists do exceptionally well. But the public was also allowed to see the same stuff the media was seeing, she writes, and that’s a victory for public access. Usher contrasts the WikiLeaks case to the Pentagon Papers disclosures of the 1970s. In that case, the public was only permitted to read less than 2% of the leaked documents and was unable to discuss them with each other in any meaningful way. Today, both mainstream and citizen media have access to the same source material. “This is a moment of glory for all those who talk about crowdsourcing, user-generated content, and the like. Perhaps this is the ultimate form of users helping to create and shape the news,” she writes.


The Sonoma Index-Tribune has dropped its three-month-old paywall. Is it a coincidence that it canned the $5 monthly charge shortly after AOL’s Patch.com opened a free outlet there? We think not.


The Brenda Starr comic strip will end its 70-year-run on Jan. 2. It joins Cathy on the list of recent comic casualties. Not a good year for female cartoon figures.

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This entry was posted on Friday, December 10th, 2010 at 7:45 am and is filed under BusinessModel, Citizen Journalism, Future of Journalism, Newspapers, OnlineMedia, Paywalls. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

2 Comments

  1. December 11, 2010 @ 7:53 pm



    Using an app would only be effective if the industry would face up to the fact that it no longer exists.

    Trying to make money selling space on a paper page is folly.

    Its over and done with. In my best Brooklyn accent: Fuggedaboutid bub…

    The ubiquity of the web and web accessing devives has made selling paper real-estate into a non-viable business proposition.

    News organizations have to face the fact that they were just the icing on a paper cake.

    Now how will these news organizations, the publishers, the various desk editors, the journalists, the copy editors survive?

    By selling their experience and skill directly to their audience, the consumers of news.

    Selling those services by subscription as apps for some $ is the way to go.

    I would say to them” Look at your previous subscriber base, (call it A,) estimate what your operating costs would be without paying for printing, (pressmens’ salaries and associated costs, shipping, mailing, warehousing, etc.) (call it B,), divide B by A, that gives you how much you have to charge the subscribers.

    Its literally that simple.

    Since its in an app, it avoids the web, and you can monetize your staff’s old skills directly.

    Posted by msbpodcast
  2. December 22, 2010 @ 5:50 am



    It is the doer of deeds who actually counts in the battle for life, and not the man who looks on and says how the fight ought to be fought, without himself sharing the stress and the danger.” (T. Roosevelt,1894)

    Posted by smarty